Friday, September 04, 2009

WORLD EXCLUSIVE - SCALAMANDRE SOLD

September 4, 2009 - Eighty years after its founding Scalamandre, the legendary textile company that some people rank next to God and Mariano Fortuny, has been sold to a man convicted in 2007 of cheque cashing fraud.

Adriana Scalamandre Bitter, only child of company founder Franco Scalamandre and his wife, Flora Baranzelli, sold the company early this summer to Louis Renzo, a principal in C.L.B. Cheque Cashing Inc., which was convicted in April 2007 of Rewarding Official Misconduct in the Second Degree (http://www.banking.state.ny.us/pr070426.htm) He and his co-accused were sentenced to five years' probation. They also are subject to a lifetime ban from involvement, either direct or indirect, in the financial services industry. Together, the defendants paid a total monetary penalty of $4.3 million.

None of the Scalamandre family members have any further association with the company. Mrs. Bitter's son Ward was trained in all aspects of the family business but decided on a different career path, which took him to Morgan Stanley among others. In 2001 he returned to restructure Baranzelli Silk Surplus(http://www.baranzelli.com/history.html) of New York. Originally funded by Scalamandre, but now owned only by Ward Bitter, the company sold Scalamandre's discounted old-stocks and overruns to the public. Many of those fabrics regularly find their way onto eBay, with no distinction being made by the resellers as to their age or status.

Scalamandre had been waging a long and nasty war with eBay, which permitted unscrupulous sellers to sell not only dead stock but outright counterfeit fabric under the Scalamandre name. This blog's previous posts on the Textile Wars (which see) detailed the experiences with several of those sellers. It was only when eBay accepted Scalamandre's right to finger the fakes that a significant dent was made in the counterfeit business; much Scalamandre fabric being sold online, however, continues to be old stock that has been resold several times before being listed.

Baranzelli now sells its own brand of fabrics.

Ward's brothers have also dissociated themselves from the company; their sister is an architect.

Scalamandre has a decades-long reputation as one of the finest textile producers in the world but was blindsided by the economic disaster.

An industry insider, who has previously helped in the prosecution of the counterfeiters - as detailed previously in these pages - told us the brutal economic climate, coupled with the banking industry's refusal to lend money to virtually anybody, took its toll.

He also sent a copy of the email sent out by Scalamandre after the sale (posted below for your reading pleasure); in it there is no suggestion that any major changes are planned. It does, however, include a four-page survey, hosted by surveymonkey.com.

Renzo has no experience in textiles. Following his conviction he bought a promotional products company that puts company logos on a variety of merchandise.

Weeks after he bought Scalamandre, Renzo shut down the trimmings division. He has hired Brian Landow, whose company, LANCO, produces promotional chocolate products. LANCO and Scalamandre are located in Hauppage, Long Island. LANCO has received development money from the Long Island Development Corporation. (http://www.lidc.org/PR0025.htm)



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